Introduction: NYLT Course Sign

About: I've been an artist all my life. Probably nothing I couldn't accomplish according to my grade school teachers who said "I would make a perfect student if I would just stop drawing all the time". I'm …

Earlier this year I was asked by a friend, who’s directing one of the NYLT (National Youth Leader Training) courses here in our local council, to design her course patch. Which is something I do quite often locally for a lot of events.

But that’s not the point of this Instructable. Recently she asked if I could make her a sign for the course. Something a bit more substantial than ink on paper. So I designed (using the patch design) an entry sign that will attach to gateway entrance. Two past examples are shown.

This just a guide to how I made this sign, the important point is how to create something unique for your event, store, or any other reason you'd need a custom sign.

Materials used:

  • Pyrography tool (Wood burner)
  • Electric Hand Sander
  • Dremel
  • Circular Saw
  • Jig Saw
  • Hand Trim Router
  • Drill
  • Dust Brush
  • Computer
  • Laser printer
  • Laser paper
  • Acetone
  • Duct tape
  • Scotch tape
  • Paper towels
  • Metal Ruler
  • Wood Glue
  • Weights Clamps
  • Polyurethene
  • Shop towels
  • 8 Wood Screws
  • 1.75” length
  • 2 Eye Bolts
  • Screwdriver
  • Burnisher (Smooth rounded surface: such as a wood spoon or plastic ball)
    • Hmmm I’m missing something here. Its on the tip of my tongue…. Oh Yeah Wood, more specifically:
    • 5’ - 2x8 Pine board (more on that later)
    • 11x11 - .75” square wood plaque
    • 23” diameter round pallet board

Step 1: Concept Design

My friends course theme was Quest for Leadership (on a global scale). She wanted a globe as a backdrop. Rather than get into the whole design concept process, I just took my finished patch design and reworked it to just be black and white.

While I was at it I fleshed out how I would work the design into a wood format. I already had the square wood plaque that would be perfect for the square NYLT logo portion. And recently a coworker had given me several Wood pallet core rounds that he said some one was throwing away(???).

The only missing piece was the backboard that would run behind the whole thing. A fellow scouter supplied this to me. Originally the course director wanted to a raw white oak board that weighed a ton. Plus it had so many knots in it, it would have been a real pain to try and wood burn.

Scale all your artwork to match up to the size of the wood you have.

Step 2: Laser Prints

After my design was mapped out. I broke down the components into 8.5”x11” portions to where I could print out on the laser printer. When printing be sure to mirror your outputs so they look backwards when an actually printed.

For example: The NYLT logo was just too prints. Which I taped together. The globe was 9 total prints. The names for backboard 1 sheet for one group and 2 for second group.

Tip: Cut away areas that create excess overlap. Then when taping together, tape only areas that are on plain white areas of the paper, without toner on it.

Step 3: Application Process

After you’ve put all your lasers together, it’s time to apply them to the wood. Lay and position lasers face down(which will be right reading if you look at from behind) and secure into position temporarily with duct tape.

Take a folded up paper towel or rag and soak a portion with the acetone. Then wipe the acetone over the laser paper. Then using your burnisher rub vigorously to transfer the toner to the wood. Lift up a corner or portion to make sure its transferring.

Keep wiping and burnishing until you’ve gotten all the details you’ll need to do the wood burning. Repeat as much as needed. Once your content with enough detail remove paper and start burning process. To fix mistakes see step 9.

Step 4: Burn Globe

When I’m working on a large design in wood burning I like to do edges of larger areas. Sort like creating my own coloring book. You know, stay with in the edges concept. With the globe map outlined then its just a matter of fill in the areas. I typically use my largest wood burning tip for this.

After the map parts I moved on to the lettering. Same principle, do outlines then fill in. Since this part of the sign is pretty large I continued using the large tip. If aren’t confident in your wood burning skills to do straight edges then you can use the metal ruler to burn a straight edge. Fill in all letter outlines to complete.

Don’t worry about mistakes, like on corners or oops burn spots. I’ll show you how to fix those later. See step 9

Step 5: Burn Square (NYLT Logo)

Since this is the center of the piece and more detail than on the round globe and switched to my fine tip for wood burning. Like before I started off doing outlines. I used the metal ruler a lot on this portion to make as many straight edges as possible. I left the reversed letter until last. Working from the edge of the letters outward.

Step 6: Prep Backboard

With the center piece complete I moved on to the back board that will be hung from the gateway.
First thing the board was too long so I cut it down to 5’ length using the circular saw. Using a plastic cup trace the cup edge on each corner. Jigsaw the corners round off each corner. Using my hand trim router I detailed the entire edge of the board. Oh and if you hadn’t noticed I did the same to the square of the NYLT logo as well. Using the hand sander I gave the entire board and good working over.

Suggestion: Now Pine isn’t always my choice for wood burning. For the main reason it’s really really sappy. Just check out the video. This board was over 4 years old dried in a controlled room and as you can see the sap is still so prevalent it just bubbles up as I try to burn. So preference would literally be anything but pine. However beggars can’t be choosers, plus pine is considerably cheaper than most woods.

Doing a rough assembly which leads to the next step.

Step 7: Burn Backboard

Position and apply the name groupings to the board. Same process as mentioned before. I outlined each letter and fill in.

Here’s where I have to complain again about the pine wood. When burning on pine, because of the grain, you’ll find that your tip will burn really easy on the white wood portions without much pressure, and when running onto the darker grain of the wood (sappy parts) the tip will barely make a dent without putting more pressure. And depending how much sap is stored you’ll really have to work the area over to darken these portions.

Step 8: Assemble Boards

Position boards into place. I glue the smaller square to the round globe. Apply a good layer of glue to the back of the square and put into position and I covered with a shop towel and set a large weight to give it a good setting.

Make sure the boards are on a level surface so the board won’t slide. The glue can have a tendency to cause the boards to slip against each other at first. So make sure you tweak the position if need be. I leave it for 24 hours to cure.

Then apply the glue to back of the globe portion (only on the areas needed to form a bond). Shop towel, weights and to make sure edges get a good seal I add clamps. Using a spare scrape of wood so to keep from marring the surface art. Let set for 24 hours.

Step 9: Fix Mistakes, Clean Up, Detailing

Occasionally you are going to make mistakes. I know I do. Especially when you get tired of doing large areas or more often when you try to rush. Or maybe you just want to clean up or detail tweak portions.

So in the pictures here I show where I accidentally angled the burner to much and it burned the an area way from the actual art. Also notice the little bump on the "F" where the grain caused my burner tip to jump.

To fix mistakes like this, small scrapes of sand paper can work on the open area. I prefer using my rotary tool to remove these spots. Usually one of the sanding wheels or in this case I used a round point sanding stone. But you have to be very careful that you don’t mar the wood too much.

Step 10:

Flipping over I drill pilot holes then screw 8 wood screws through the back board and into the circular globe board. This signage will be (as mentioned earlier) hung from a camp gateway entrance. I was told the support chains that hang down are 33” apart. So taking a measurement from the center of the back board 2’6” (half of 5’)

I measure 16.5” out for each side. I drill pilot holes then screw in the eye bolts.
With the bolts in place I wanted to check the hanging balance. Unfortunately I didn’t have chains to do this but I did have rubber straps. But both weren’t the same length. That’s why it doesn’t look level. Which won’t be a problem when they use actual chains from gateway.

My concern was the circular globe portion would cause the overall sign be top heavy and lean forward from the top. Which I guess wouldn’t be such a bad thing for readability when entering. But it hung pretty much straight up.

I sign and dated my creation. Now depending on weather you want the sign to last, you can polyurethene the whole thing to help protect. I'm leaving that up to the course director.

Unfortunately I won't have pictures of the sign being hung on the gateway until the course happens. So check back to see the completed results.

If your interested in more about Pyrography check out my other instructable:


Step 11:

Yeah, so while working on this April fools happened to roll by and I couldn’t resist having fun with my friend I’m creating this for.

First pic I sent her "Oops assembled it upside down".

Second pic I told her I decided to start over and sanded off the entire burning.

(Thanks to a little Photoshop magic).

Yeah I know I'm a bit of a jerk sometimes. LOL

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